Photo: Salwan Georges, The Washington Post / The Washington Post
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Opioid related deaths in the United States have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and experts say and it’s only going to get worse according to their estimates.
NPR reported that “new data from around the U.S. confirms that drug overdoses are spiking during the coronavirus pandemic, rising by roughly 18 percent.”
Morning Consult describes addiction as a ‘disease of isolation’ and because of everything the country is facing–social distancing, natural disasters, unemployment strife, and economic and political stress, the opioid crisis can be that much more fatal.
The American Medical Association reported more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality.” The Department of State Health Services says that opioid use is still the primary driver of overdose deaths in Texas.
Dallas Morning News also reported that opioid relapses are on the rise as COVID-19 interrupts drug addiction recovery in Dallas. “In the Dallas area, the pandemic is resulting in an increased number of people in recovery who are relapsing,” local clinicians said.
Dr. Paul Christo, the Associate Professor in the Division of Pain Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a press release, “The worst fear is that because of social isolation, and people are not being found or treated immediately.”
“The number of fatalities from opioid-related overdoses could be nearly 30 percent higher than reported due to missing information or incomplete death records,” Christo continued.
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Because the pandemic and other national crises are adding an extra layer of stress, how do we combat the opioid epidemic?
Dr. Christo says that “COVID 19 impacted the drug supply chain by closing borders on some regions, and it led to the higher death rate. He added that drugs become more challenging to get, and the potency of overdose goes up. It also impacts the price, everything goes up, and in that sense, it becomes more deadly each day.”
The AMA suggested that governors and state legislatures take action by enforcing rules and guidelines, use of telemedicine, support harm reduction strategies and remove existing barriers for patients with pain.